With water temperatures exceeding 18 degrees in the summer, visitors from all over Europe flock to the Costa del Sol. Beyond the main strips, you’ll find some fascinating cultural and historic attractions showcasing the rich diversity of Andalusia.

With so many cities, towns and villages, deciding where to stay in Costa del Sol can be difficult. Each area is completely unique, offering something a little different to travelers.

That’s where we come in! We’ve combined our own experience with hints and tips from locals and travel experts to bring you the three best places to stay in Costa del Sol. Whether you’re planning a family escape, a seaside getaway or budget-break, we’ve got you covered.

Where to Stay in Costa del Sol

Summer in Spain? Get yourself to a beach, pronto!

Best Apartment in Costa del Sol: Fendi Penthouse

Fendi Penthouse, Costa del Sol 1

The Airbnb Luxe range offers only the best hand-picked accommodations. This particular apartment offers airport transfers, spa services and regular housekeeping. It sleeps up to four guests and comes with stunning views of the sea.

Best Hostel in Costa del Sol: Malaga Beach and Center Backpackers

Malaga Beach and Center Backpackers, Costa del Sol 1

Costa del Sol is one of the most popular destinations in Europe, so accommodation can get a little pricier. Thankfully, there are some excellent hostels for backpackers looking to get some sun on a budget. This Málaga hostel is a short walk away from the city center, so you can save money on public transport.

Best Hotel in Costa del Sol: Vincci Selección Aleysa

Vincci Seleccion Aleysa, Costa del Sol 1

If you’re looking to splurge on a luxury getaway, look no further than this five star hotel in Torremolinos. Each room comes with stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea, and private sun loungers where you can bask without the crowds. It’s situated right on the beach, and close to the best things to do in town.

Costa del Sol Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Costa del Sol

FIRST TIME IN COSTA DEL SOL
Malaga-City-Centre
FIRST TIME IN COSTA DEL SOL

Málaga

As the largest city on the Costa del Sol, Málaga has seen some major renovations over the past few years. Many of the beaches around the city have been significantly developed, with hotels and holiday apartments overlooking the Mediterranean.

ON A BUDGET
Estepona, Costa del Sol
ON A BUDGET

Estepona

There are plenty of smaller cities and towns dotted along the Costa del Sol that are worth visiting if you want to get away from the busier urban centres. Estepona strikes a good balance between having plenty of tourist infrastructure while still retaining its authentic charm.

FOR FAMILIES
Torremolinos, Costa del Sol 1
FOR FAMILIES

Torremolinos

Torremolinos is only a few minutes by car from Málaga but enjoys a completely different vibe. Once a small fishing village, it has seen a much bigger impact as a result of increased tourism.

Costa del Sol’s Top 3 Places to Stay in

Hugging the Andalusian coast, the Costa del Sol is among the most visited destinations in Europe. There are a few misconceptions about the area that lead people to assume it’s full of just tourists – but it’s actually a surprisingly diverse destination. If you scratch below the surface, you really can find some hidden gems.

Many of these hidden gems can be found in Málaga! As the largest city in the region, it’s a major gateway to Spain’s sunniest coast. It’s full of history and culture and provides regular connections to other destinations along the coast, making it the best pick for first timers.

Estepona is one of the best preserved villages on the Costa del Sol. There’s a fair bit of tourism here, however this hasn’t had the same impact on local culture as in other areas. As a result, it’s where you’ll find the most affordable accommodation and dining options.

Just south of Málaga is Torremolinos. With pedestrianised shopping streets and vast beaches, this is a popular destination among families. Despite getting quite busy, it’s full of hotels and activities to keep you entertained and away from larger crowds.

Still undecided? It isn’t an easy choice to make! We’ve got some more info about each destination below to give you a better idea of what’s on offer. Accommodation and activity picks are also included, so you can kickstart your itinerary planning.

1. Málaga – Best Place to Stay in Costa del Sol for your First Time

Malaga-City-Centre
Vibrant Málaga is a popular spring-break destination

As the largest city on the Costa del Sol, Málaga has seen some major renovations over the past few years. Many of the beaches around the city have been significantly developed, with hotels and holiday apartments overlooking the Mediterranean. For first time visitors, Málaga is the easiest destination to access and has the best connections across the region.

Despite these huge developments, central Málaga has retained an authentic vibe. The historic architecture is still intact, with many of Málaga’s attractions providing a window to the city’s past. It’s still very much a working city, so you’ll find a good mix of travelers and locals here. 

Best Airbnb in Málaga: Rustic Penthouse with Private Terrace

Private Terrace, Costa del Sol

This sunny Airbnb in Málaga comes with gorgeous views overlooking the town. On the private terrace, you’ll find sun-loungers and a rustic barbecue area. It’s a short walk from the centre of Málaga, with the Guadalmina River right on your doorstep. .

Best Hostel in Málaga: Malaga Beach and Center Backpackers

Malaga Beach and Center Backpackers, Costa del Sol two

Despite being a ten minute walk from the town center, this is one of the most peaceful hostels in Málaga. Whilst definitely not a party hostel, they still host regular social events where you can meet up with other backpackers. It’s right next to the beach, so you get to enjoy sea views from the terrace.

Best Hotel in Málaga: Molina Lario

Molina Lario, Costa del Sol

This gorgeous four star hotel in the city centre comes with a rooftop pool and unbeatable views towards the sea. Rooms are modern and spacious, letting in plenty of natural light. The Roman Amphitheatre is steps away, and Malagueta Beach is within short walking distance. It’s a bit of a splurge, but worth every penny for the ultimate accommodation in Málaga.

Things to See and Do in Málaga:

Malaga-destination
  1. Sample the culinary highlights of the Costa del Sol in this mouthwatering tapas and wine tour through the centre of Málaga.
  2. Alcazaba is the Moorish castle in the heart of the city that overlooks the historic centre and winding cobbled streets.
  3. See an alternative side of the city in this unique street art and graffiti tour through some of Málaga’s hippest neighborhoods.
  4. Rock climbing is a really popular activity in the area – take a trip up to El Chorro gorge where you can walk along the King’s Walkway for a hit of adrenaline.
Is This the Best Backpack EVER???
audy on top of a mountain in japan with the osprey aether

We’ve tested countless backpacks over the years, but there’s one that has always been the best and remains the best buy for adventurers: the broke backpacker-approved Osprey Aether and Ariel series.

Want more deetz on why these packs are so damn perfect? Then read our comprehensive review for the inside scoop!

View on Osprey View on REI

2. Estepona – Where to Stay in Costa del Sol on a Budget

Estepona, Costa del Sol
Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean cutting corners on views!

Estepona strikes a good balance between tourist infrastructure and authentic charm. While nowhere on the Costa del Sol is truly off the beaten path, Estepona has its own unique vibe that will really enhance your stay.

Since it’s a little bit out of the way for tourists, Estepona is quite an affordable destination for those traveling Spain on a budget. Accommodation is pretty average, but you can find some good deals in the off-season.

Best Airbnb in Estepona: Traditional Escape in the Old Town

Old Town, Costa del Sol

This cute pied-à-terre is a great example of the history that oozes out of Estepona. Located in the Old Town, the architecture harks back to a bygone era in Estepona. The interior pays tribute to this, with traditional furnishings and classic design. The most popular museums and plazas are right on the doorstep, and there’s a private terrace on the roof with views of the church.

Best Penthouse in Estepona: Fendi Penthouse

Fendi Penthouse, Costa del Sol 2

It’s not often we feature an Airbnb Luxe property in our top budget neighbourhood, but we really couldn’t keep this property off our guide to the best places to stay in the Costa del Sol. You’ll definitely need to splurge a little, but thankfully it’s among the more affordable of Luxe properties. This gorgeous penthouse comes with the latest design and a peaceful swimming pool.

Best Budget Hotel in Estepona: Mare Estepona Hotel

Mare Estepona Hotel, Costa del Sol

The three star Mare Estepona Hotel is the perfect choice for anyone traveling on a budget. Rooms are somewhat basic, but spacious and comfortable. Guests are also provided with a complimentary breakfast every morning!

Things to See and Do in Estepona:

Estepona Spain
Photo: Turista Inglesa (WikiCommons)
  1. Take a walk along the Promenade for gorgeous Mediterreanean views, especially at dawn or sunset.
  2. The Beacon Towers are an important historic landmark. They were built by the Moors and early Castillians, and can all be hiked in a single day.
  3. Horse riding is really popular in the area. Escuela de Arte Ecuestre Costa del Sol is considered the most renowned school in the region and offers private lessons.
  4. Estepona is a major culinary centre in the Costa del Sol – we can’t really pick out a favorite, but there are plenty to explore in the main square.

3. Torremolinos – Best Area in Costa del Sol for Families

Torremolinos,  Costa del Sol 1
Families will love staying in this vibrant town.

Torremolinos is only a few minutes by car from Málaga, but enjoys a completely different vibe. Once a small fishing village, it has seen a much bigger impact as a result of increased tourism. Whilst this can be off-putting to certain kinds of travelers, families really benefit from the bountiful facilities and activities on offer.

The main entertainment strip is pedestrian only, and many of the beaches offer water based activities that can be enjoyed by young children. It’s a safe area of Spain, so you can rest easy and relax on your holiday.

Best Airbnb in Torremolinos: Parisian Loft

Parisian Loft, Costa del Sol

This charming loft sleeps up to six guests in two bedrooms, making it ideal for groups and families. The apartment enjoys sea views and two sunny terraces, as well as cooking and laundry facilities.

Best Apartment in Torremolinos: Gorgeous Penthouse

Gorgeous Penthouse, Costa del Sol

Airbnb Plus properties are hand picked for their gorgeous interiors and exceptional guest service. This laid-back apartment is kept peaceful with Scandinavian design and plenty of plants. The beautiful balcony comes with sea views and a small breakfast area – perfect for a calm start to the day.

Best Hotel in Torremolinos: Vincci Selección Aleysa

Vincci Seleccion Aleysa, Costa del Sol 2

Right on the waterfront, it doesn’t get much better than this stunning five star hotel. They offer a variety of rooms that can cater to families, and there’s an airport shuttle if you don’t fancy hiring a car. There are activities on offer throughout the day and a delectable breakfast served each morning.

Things to See and Do in Torremolinos:

Torremolinos, Costa del Sol 2
  1. Andalucia has a rich culinary history. Learn about some of the most iconic dishes from the region and how to make them in this experience.
  2. There are a number of theme parks and water parks in the area – we recommend Aqualand for families with younger kids.
  3. If you’re here to relax and soak up the sun, why not start the day off right with this easy-going yoga experience right on the beach.
  4. La Carihuela is the site of the original fishing village – it has since been pedestrianised and is home to some fantastic restaurants.
Travel with peace of mind. Travel WITH a security belt.
Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

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Hide Yo’ Money!

What To Pack For Costa del Sol

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

Make Some New Buddies…
Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Costa del Sol

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Costa del Sol

With stunning beaches, vibrant entertainment districts and seemingly endless sunshine, it’s no wonder the Costa del Sol is such a popular place to stay in Spain.

If you’re still unsure, you can’t go wrong with Málaga! It might seem like the obvious choice, but it offers a bit of everything and is ideal for travelers getting to know the region. It’s also well-connected to the other areas.

That being said, the best place for you really depends on what you want to get out of your trip. All that’s left to do now is choose, and get packing!

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Looking for more info on travelling to Costa del Sol and Spain?

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!